Training for Safety: how ongoing education prevents accidents

There is no shortage of responsible, well-planned safety training available to contractors and employers; the problem is wading through the resources and aligning with a course of action that best fits your risk profile.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has – as one would expect – outstanding (courses, materials and resources ) including publications, events, and classes. The OSHA Training Institute and its training centers provide highly specialized courses for both government and private personnel.

OutreachTrainers.org offers authorized trainers OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour courses, as well as many other courses.

Many standards promulgated by OSHA explicitly require the employer to train employees in the safety and health aspects of their jobs. Other OSHA standards make it the employer's responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are "certified", "competent" or "qualified" – meaning that they have had special previous training in or out of the workplace.

Training is an essential part of every employer's safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.

Voluntary Training Guidelines

The OSHA Act does not specifically address the responsibility of employers to provide health and safety information and instruction to employees, although section 5(a)(2) does require that each employer "…shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act."

However, over one hundred of the Act's current standards do contain training requirements. Therefore, OSHA has developed voluntary training guidelines to assist employers in providing the safety and health information and instruction needed for their employees to work at minimal risk to themselves, to fellow employees, and the public.

The guidelines are designed to help employers to determine whether a worksite problem can be solved by training, determine what training if any is needed, identify goals and objectives for the training, design learning activities, conduct training, determine the effectiveness of the training, and revise the training program based on feedback from employees, supervisors, and others.

Recordkeeping

All training needs to be documented indicating the employees' names, name of the person performing the training, date of training, and topic covered.

Training records should be kept by the Project Manager, Supervisor, or Safety Coordinator for a period of no less than one year and be available for inspection by the Corporate Director of Safety Health & Environmental, and/or local, state, or federal regulators.

Job-Specific Safety Training

Managers and supervisors should ensure that all employees, new employees, employees with changes in job duties, and employees transferred from other work centers have the proper training to perform their jobs. This training can be on-the-job and include safe operating procedures and the safe use of tools and equipment.

Training also covers procedures for obtaining and using personal protective equipment, obtaining work permits, setting up and working in traffic, making notifications, handling hazardous waste streams, and use of job hazard analysis (JHAs).

Licenses and Certificates

The requirements for licenses and certificates vary for different contracts and locations. The contract manager, in coordination with the project manager, site safety manager, supervisors, and corporate safety director, determines the needs for the particular contract. Employees may be required to provide copies of licenses or certificates before operating equipment such as motor vehicles, forklifts, cranes, and aerial lifts.

As an example, OSHA uses the term "permit-required confined space" (permit space or PRCS) referenced in OSHA Confined Space standard 29 CFR 1910.146 to describe an at-risk hazardous condition. Training for the PRCS typically involves understanding of the procedures, preparation of a signed permit, testing and posting of the permit.

Safety Education As in most other professions, staying safe in construction means paying attention to innovations in the field, with a side of ongoing education.